Oil & Gas: Automation Slashes Operational Costs and Helps Boost Output
The energy, oil and gas industry has transformed into a complex landscape. Operations involve multiple remote locations, each with assets of different maturity level. All with a layer of ever changing regulation. Automation helps energy, oil and gas companies (as well as all service operations) navigate through that complexity and find ways to cut down operational costs and optimize business processes to boost the bottom line.
When we think of automation, self-driving cars and robotic arms in a manufacturing plant may come to mind. However, there is a different form of automation that is less visible but equally ground breaking. Think of automation as a process completed without active human assistance, which can be applied to digital data tools. The nature of automation lends itself to freeing employee resources and optimizing operational efficiency, providing substantial business value to your entire operation.
Using automation in predictive maintenance
Automation, in the context of data gathering, processing and reporting, provides visibility on how to improve the performance your pipes and equipment. Constant data capturing through IoT, while monitoring equipment conditions are forms of automation that can prevent unplanned downtime.
Because all your equipment are constantly monitored, an automatic system can notify you when it detects anomalous readings that indicate imminent equipment failure. In short, automation can help you avoid an abrupt halt in your operations by fixing your equipment before it breaks down. Leveraging IoT in tandem with reporting and analytics can decrease maintenance costs by up to 13 percent.
>> Read related: Predictive Maintenance in Oil & Gas, Field Service
Having immediate access to comprehensive information makes your operation more nimble. According to McKinsey&Company, refineries that react and optimize in two or three months faster than their competition can gain an incremental margin in the neighborhood of more than $10 million.
Eradicating information siloes and ensuring complete and on-demand information is key to trimming operational costs. Integrated technologies create a more complete picture of your complex processes, offering the opportunity find ways to boost efficiency. As an example, figuring out which are the best performing wells has typically involved transferring data from one system to another, requiring data to be reexamined and reformatted at every step. By utilizing a single system that collects, analyzes performance data, you can more easily arrive with holistic view to make decisions. This previously burdensome task is not done only more accurately, but in less time and fewer man hours.
Optimization through automation requires reports to makes sense of all the data that has been automatically captured. Without reporting, oil and gas operations are prone to regress to practicing workarounds instead of strategic problem solving. Using digital reporting encourages a frequent iterative practice. For example, wells can be structurally reviewed once a week, not just once per quarter.
With reporting of more data across more of your operations, you can target 20 percent of well stock for production-enhancing intervention, not just 10 percent. Reporting through automation, you can close the gap between production levels and reservoir potential by pin-pointing production bottlenecks. You can dive in the data to analyze ways to increase existing well productivity and project potential gains from drilling additional wells.
During the recent oil and gas industry downturn, companies had no choice but to trim down costs every where they can. With the recent improvement in oil and gas, the companies that will thrive will continue to focus efforts on controlling costs and optimizing existing physical infrastructure. Therefore, now is the time to invest in technological integration and automation to ensure continued profitability.
Leveraging new technologies do require effort now, but will help realize operational savings in your equipment, your processes and within your team. Moreover, the benefits of automation and other forms of digital transformation will help profitability by increasing your capacity and output.